'Washington Post' Reporter Defends Mosque Where Imam Was Caught Promoting Female Genital Mutilation
A Washington D.C.-area imam caused a firestorm last week when video emerged of him defending female genital mutilation:
Ever since, the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, has been under fire to address the controversy prompted by Imam Shaker Elsayed's comments:
In fact, Dar al-Hijrah announced this morning that Imam Elsayed had been placed on administrative leave:
The Washington Post waded into the matter, describing the mosque as being "embattled" from the resulting criticism:
That article's author, Islam and Arab affairs reporter Abigail Hauslohner, took to Twitter earlier today to promote her article -- and noted that 400 people had signed a petition in support of Imam Elsayed:
And yet when one reader thanked her for her article on "an extremist hotbed," Hauslohner responded that she has "never seen any evidence to suggest that Dar al-Hijrah is an extremist hotbed":
This is truly a remarkable claim.
In addition to the fact that she was reporting on the imam of that mosque promoting a criminal act banned by federal law, considerable reporting exists detailing the evidence that Dar al-Hijrah is an extremist hotbed. Some of that reporting comes from Hauslohner's own publication.
In September 2011, the Washington Post reported on the ties between Fort Hood killer and former mosque attendee Nidal Hasan and al-Qaeda cleric and the mosque's former imam Anwar al-Awlaki.
The Post noted that Dar al-Hijrah has one of the most dubious reputations for mosque attendees turning to terrorism.
Then, too, the Washington Post described Dar al-Hijrah as "embattled":
According to Post reporter William Wan:
As its critics often point out, almost no other mosque in the country has been linked to so many cases of alleged terrorism. The notoriety has gotten to the point where after each attack or arrest of a Muslim suspect, the mosque often finds TV crews camped outside its doors.
Many would take the acknowledged fact that "no other mosque in the country has been linked to so many cases of alleged terrorism" to be evidence that Dar al-Hijrah is, in fact, an extremist hotbed.
But Abigail Hauslohner does not.
This is hardly the first occasion Imam Elsayed has been caught making extremist statements. Just yesterday, the Middle East Media Research Institute posted this gem:
And back in April, Imam Elsayed had these words of encouragement during one of his Friday sermons at Dar al-Hijrah:
In 2013, Imam Elsayed was openly advocating for Muslim men to engage in armed jihad:
Many from the mosque have taken Imam Elsayed's advice -- I reported on the long list of terrorists to have come out of Dar al-Hijrah here at PJ Media in 2011:
I observed that the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) had reports in its TECS system obtained via FOIA by the Investigative Project on Terrorism describing Dar al-Hijrah as "a mosque operating as a front for Hamas operatives in the U.S.":
The reports also stated that Dar al-Hijrah had "been linked to numerous individuals linked to terrorism financing":
Among the terrorism cases I note in my article, "Dar al-Hijrah: D.C.'s Own Terror Factory," was Dar al-Hijrah youth leader Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who was sentenced to life in prison for plotting the assassination of former President George W. Bush. Abu Ali taught Islamic Studies at Dar al-Hijrah, led youth retreats, and was a counselor at the mosque's youth summer day camp.
Here is a video of Abu Ali leading prayers at Dar al-Hijrah:
In the video, you can see Imam Shaker Elsayed directly behind the future al-Qaeda terrorist. When the mosque youth worker went to trial in federal court, his family's spokesman was none other than Imam Elsayed:
Dar al-Hijrah Executive Committee member Abdelhaleem Ashqar received an 11-year federal prison sentence for his refusal to testify in a Chicago terrorism trial:
But it's not just Dar al-Hijrah youth leaders or executive committee members who have turned to terrorism. As I noted earlier, Al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was imam at the mosque from 2000-2002, when he fled the country. Just two months after the 9/11 attacks, Awlaki was featured in a Washington Post special report on Ramadan, where he defended the Taliban over their involvement in the 9/11 attacks:
The Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 discovered that two of the 9/11 hijackers had followed Awlaki from San Diego to Falls Church, where they attended Dar al-Hijrah, and were later jointed by Hani Hanjour, who flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the nearby Pentagon.
One of the other striking findings of the Joint Congressional Inquiry was that a Dar al-Hijrah member had chauffeured the 9/11 hijackers to meetings in Connecticut and New Jersey:
In February 2008, the Washington Post reported that Awlaki had reemerged in Yemen as a top leader for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP):
When Awlaki was killed in a CIA drone strike in Yemen in September 2011, the Washington Post reported on how his death "reopened old wounds" for Dar al-Hijrah:
But as I reported here at PJ Media, the mosque hailed their former imam and Al-Qaeda leader for his work in interfaith engagement, tolerance, and civic engagement:
Awlaki was not the first Dar al-Hijrah imam to have a run-in with the U.S. government.
In November 2001, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the FBI compiled information about terrorist fundraising by the Holy Land Foundation. In a memo by Dale Watson, the assistant director of the Counterterrorism Division, he reported that Imam Muhammad al-Hanooti had reportedly raised $6 million for Hamas:
As I reported here at PJ Media last December, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, was pictured at a Dar al-Hijrah fundraiser with al-Hanooti:
Al-Hanooti was deemed so radical that some Dar al-Hijrah members attempted to oust him as imam -- unsuccessfully:
And when al-Hanooti died in 2015, it was Imam Elsayed who performed his funeral at Dar al-Hijrah (the video has been conveniently removed from YouTube in the past 24 hours):
When Elsayed was hired by Dar al-Hijrah in 2005, the Associated Press noted at the time that the new imam carried some radical baggage:
With all his activities, it's perhaps not surprising that Elsayed's sermons seem to carry political overtones. On a recent Friday, preaching to more than 500 men and women -- with the genders worshipping separately -- he said without mentioning specific nations that: "Islam forbids you to give allegiance to those who kick you off your homeland, and to those who support those who kick you off your homeland. We do have license to respond with all force necessary to answer our attackers."
If it seems I'm engaged in a little overkill over Ms. Hauslohner's Twitter remark, it's because I've had my own first-hand brush with one of the terrorists who have emerged from this extremist hotbed.
On February 17, 2012, I was attending an event at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. Unbeknownst at the time to all of us attending, during the event a would-be suicide bomber, Amine El-Khalifi, had been arrested by the FBI while headed toward the Visitor Center with what he believed to be a suicide belt. Not only did El-Khalifi attend Dar al-Hijrah, but as Ms. Hauslohner's own newspaper reported, he stopped at the mosque to pray just before heading to the U.S. Capitol to conduct the suicide attack:
I was later told by a member of Congress that the lunch event I was attending, where former CIA Director James Woolsey was speaking, was El-Khalifi's intended target. I still keep my Visitor Center pass from that day taped to my computer monitor to remind me that many are not so lucky.
So as the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously said, "You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts." When Abigail Hauslohner publicly claims that she has "never seen any evidence to suggest that Dar al-Hijrah is an extremist hotbed," she is either lying or incompetent. To ignore not only the Mt. Everest of evidence about Dar al-Hijrah's vast terror ties, but also her own publication's acknowledgement that "no other mosque in the country has been linked to so many cases of alleged terrorism," is to disrespect the pursuit of truth. If she truly does not know this information, the Washington Post has an obligation to keep her far away from any reporting duties.
Imam Shaker Elsayed's comments supporting female genital mutilation were not an unexpected or extraordinary burst out of nowhere, but just the latest entry in a long, documented history of extremist statements and terror activity virtually unparalleled by any other mosque in the United States.
If Dar al-Hijrah is not an extremist hotbed, then there is no such thing. Democracy dies in deception.